Sigurðarkviða hin skamma

41. “Never a wife | of fickle will
Yet to another | man should yield.
. . . . . . . . . .
So vengence for all | my ills shall come.”

42, Up rose Gunnar, | the people’s ruler,
And flung his arms | round her neck so fair;
And all who came, | of every kind,
Sought to hold her | with all their hearts.

43. But back she cast | all those who came,
Nor from the long road | let them hold her.

44. In counsel then | did he Hogni call:
“Of wisdom now | full great is our need.
Let the warriors here | in the hall come forth,
Thine and mine, | for the need is mighty,
If haply the queen | from death they may hold,
Till her fearful thoughts | with time shall fade.”

45. (Few the words | of Hogni were:)
“From the long road now | shall ye hold her not,
That born again | she may never be!
Foul she came | from her mother forth,
And born she was | for wicked deeds,
(Sorrow to many | a man to bring.)”

46. From the speaker gloomily | Gunnar turned,
For the jewel-bearer | her gems was dividing;

47. On all her wealth | her eyes were gazing,
On the bond-women slain | and the slaughtered slaves.
Her byrnie of gold | she donned, and grim.

48. Was her heart ere the point | of her sword had pierced it;
On the pillow at last | her head she laid,
And, wounded, her plan | she pondered o’er.

49. “Hither I will | that my women come
Who gold are fain | from me to get;
Necklaces fashioned | fair to each
Shall I give, and cloth, | and garments bright.”

50. Silent were all | as so she spake,
And all together | answer made:
“Slain are enough; | we seek to live,
Not thus thy women | shall honor win.”


41. At this point there seem to be several emissions. Brynhild’s statement in lines 1-2 seems to refer to the episode, not here mentioned but told in detail in the Volsungasaga, of Sigurth’s effort to repair the wrong that has been done her by himself giving up Guthrun in her favor, an offer which she refuses. The lacuna here suggested, which is not indicated in the manuscript, may be simply a single line (line 1) or a stanza or more. After line 2 there is almost certainly a gap of at least one stanza, and possibly more, in which Brynhild states her determination to die.

42. Hardly any two editions agree as to the arrangement of the lines in stanzas 42-44. I have followed the manuscript except in transposing line 4 of stanza 43 to this position from the place it holds in the manuscript after line 4 of stanza 14. All the other involve the rejection of two or more lines as spurious and the assumption of various gaps. Gering and Sijmons both arrange the lines thus: 42, 1-2; two-line gap; 43, 3 [fp. 434] (marked probably spurious); 44, 1-4; 43-4 (marked probably spurious); 42, 3-4; 43, 1-2.]

44. Cf. note on stanza 42. The lines:

“In counsel then | did he Hogni call:
Of wisdom now | full great is our need.”

Were moved from the original position as lines 3 and 4 stanza 43 in Bellows original translation to lines 1 and 2 stanza 44 to conform with the ON.

45. Perhaps the remains of two stanzas; the manuscript marks line 4 as the beginning of a new stanza, and after line 4 an added line has been suggested: “She was ever known for evil thoughts.” On the other hand, line 1, identical with line 31 of stanza 17, may well be a mere expansion of “Hogni spake,” and line 6 may have been introduced, with a slight variation, from line 5 of stanza 38. Born again: this looks like a trace of Christian influence (the poem was composed well after the coming of Christianity to Iceland) in the assumption that if Brynhild killed herself she could not be “born again” (cf. concluding prose to Helgakvitha Hundingsbana II).

46. The manuscript marks line 3 as beginning a stanza; some editions treat lines 1-2 as a separate stanza, and combine lines 3-4 with lines 1-2 of stanza 47. Jewel-bearer (literally “land of jewels”): woman, here Brynhild. Bond-women, etc.: in stanza 69 we learn that five female slaves and eight serfs were killed to be burned on the funeral pyre, and thus to follow Sigurth in death. See note 47.

47. The manuscript marks line 3, and not line 1, as beginning a stanza, and some editions treat lines 3-4 as a separate stanza, or combine them with stanza 48. The lines:

“On all her wealth | her eyes were gazing,
On the bond-women slain | and the slaughtered slaves.”

Were moved to the beginning of stanza 47 to conform with the ON. Where as the lines: “Was her heart ere the point | of her sword had pierced it;
On the pillow at last | her head she laid,
And, wounded, her plan | she pondered o’er.”

Where made into a seperate stanza numberd 48 to conform to the ON thus the Bellows translation stanza numbers are renumbered from stanzas 48 to 71.

49. Brynhild means, as stanzas 50-52 show, that those of her women who wish to win rewards must be ready to follow her in death. The word translated “women” in line 1 is conjectural, but the general meaning is clear enough.

50. In place of “as so she spake” in line 1 the manuscript has “of their plans they thought,” which involves a metrical error.

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